Values Week: getting the debate going

Employees take the oath and share their plans

'Rather than serving as a protective measure against any type misconduct, the bankers' oath should be viewed as more of a moral compass,' said Executive Board Chairman Wiebe Draijer in the speech that kicked off Values Week 2015 – a new tradition through which the bank aims to keep the debate on standards and values alive in the years to come.

On 15 June 2015, a crowd of 2000 Rabobank employees gathered together in the central hall of Rabobank's head office in Utrecht. Colleagues from all over the world watched a live video feed as Executive Board Chairman Wiebe Draijer officially opened Rabobank's first-ever 'Values Week'.

Incentive for improvement

Wiebe Draijer told the assembled audience that values are about much more than building a protective wall around the bank to keep it from running into trouble. 'I see it as more of an incentive for improving Rabobank as a financial institution, along with the services we provide to our customers. It serves as an inspiration to the bank while at the same time empowering our people.'

Bankers' oath

During 'Values Week', tens of thousands of employees at Rabobank's Dutch and international offices engaged in lively debates to discuss their standards and values and how these affect their day-to-day work. Dutch Rabobank employees also took the bankers' oath during this first edition of the event. Almost 90,000 employees at the Dutch banks have taken the oath – which became compulsory for bankers across the Netherlands from 1 January 2015 to 1 April 2016.

Honest discussion

The oath is one of a series of measures implemented by the Dutch banks collectively with the objective of restoring public trust and confidence in the banking industry. 'The oath provides the incentive for this week's events, but our involvement in 'Values Week' is very much in keeping with the Rabobank spirit, in the sense that this does not feel like an obligation, but rather like an honest discussion about the values that guide us,' Wiebe Draijer said.

Regaining confidence

Some of the event participants feel the bank should do a better job of emphasising Rabobank's roots. Or, as one worker put it: 'Everyone at Rabobank used to know the story of Raiffeisen, but is that still true today?' Others see taking the oath as a new chance to regain confidence in banks, banking and also self assurance. 'It's really an ultimate reflection on your own individual actions,' said another employee.

Some attendees also proposed that the company's selection process should be tightened by evaluating prospective employees, not only based on their skills for a particular role, but also – especially – on whether their personal values match the bank's core values and culture.

Meetings and statements

During the first-ever 'Values Week', members of the Executive Board attended various employee meetings throughout the country. A team of creative software developers set up a special 'inspiration' website, where employees can share their personal statements with colleagues. Employees can discuss how they could accomplish more through their work, improve their work situation or do things differently. The site has been viewed by thousands, while hundreds have taken the time to contribute statements.

Code of Conduct

'Values Week' coincided with Rabobank's launch of an all-new Code of Conduct for employees. The code describes the bank’s standards and values along with requirements concerning employee attitudes and behaviour. Wiebe Draijer said, 'The code serves as a guideline, but does not necessarily provide answers to the questions we sometimes encounter in the workplace. That's why it’s all the more important to share and discuss any issues and dilemmas we may come across with each other.'

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